Foundation honors former educators, supports art students

Westra Bye Memorial Foundation Board members participated in the Grand Haven Art Festival in June. They will participate in the Grand Haven ArtWalk Artist Market this Saturday at The Depot.

The memory of two Grand Haven artists and educators is being kept alive with a new nonprofit aimed at helping students.

Founded in memory of Robin Bye and Donna Westra, the Westra Bye Memorial Foundation’s mission is to support visual arts education for students in Grand Haven Area Public Schools. The nonprofit plans to subsidize the art class materials fees for students whose families have a financial hardship and award an arts materials stipend to a graduating senior.

The foundation also plans to offer the Westra Bye Memorial and Art Educator’s Scholarship. Application materials will be available in Grand Haven High School’s student services office.

The foundation’s board is participating in the Grand Haven ArtWalk Artist Market, which runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, at The Depot in downtown Grand Haven. Its booth will feature artwork for sale – such as prints by Robin Bye, artist note cards, ceramics, felted purses and ceramics.

While many classes are offered without additional fees, some higher-level courses have a materials fee involved, said Board President Sheri Greene. The nonprofit aims to remove the financial barrier for students who are passionate about the arts and want to further their education.

“If we can help out in some way, we want to be able to help our students reach their dreams,” she said.

Since the nonprofit was founded in April, individuals and businesses have shown their support, Greene said. Some of the support has come from Alicia Bye’s graphic designs, the local Chamber of Commerce, Grand Haven Main Street ArtWalk, Art on the Riverfront, Hofcraft and others.

In May, the foundation in partnership with Hofcraft awarded a stipend to a graduating senior who plans to pursue a visual arts degree.

Foundation board members sold artwork during the Grand Haven Art Festival in June and during the Art on the Riverfront show in August.

The board also has a vision to grow and support opportunities such as guest artists, summer programs and art material fees.

“Our goal is to create a lasting support system for visual arts education in our community,” said the board’s treasurer, Valerie Boet. “We are working diligently to build an endowed scholarship which will be awarded annually.”

The foundation has donation boxes at Studio JSD, 219 N. Seventh St., and The Creative Fringe, 117 Washington Ave.

For more information about the Westra Bye Memorial Art Foundation, visit the nonprofit’s Facebook page or email westrabye@gmail.com.

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